This Is Why You Don’t Need Adobe Reader

adobe pdf logo   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe ReaderAdobe Reader isn’t just unnecessary – it has a history of being an application you wouldn’t want on your system. From being extremely heavy and slow to having a long series of security flaws, Adobe Reader has never been a very good application for the average user. Adobe Reader’s speed and security have improved recently, but they haven’t improved enough. You probably don’t need Adobe Reader installed at all, and it’s likely your browser or operating system already has built-in PDF support.

A few people will appreciate some of Adobe Reader’s lesser-used features, such as the ability to digitally sign documents. However, Adobe Reader arguably has too many features. Features like allowing PDFs to run JavaScript code have unsurprisingly led to security holes in the past, and it’s clear that most people would be better off with a faster, minimal, more secure PDF reader.

Firefox

Mozilla introduced an integrated PDF viewer, known as PDF.js, in Firefox 19. You don’t need a PDF viewer installed on your computer – when you open a PDF in Firefox, Firefox’s integrated PDF viewer will take care of things.

Firefox’s PDF viewer actually isn’t a browser plug-in at all. It’s written in JavaScript, the same scripting language used by web pages in your  browser. This means that Firefox’s PDF viewer is fully sandboxed the same way web pages are, which gives you additional security benefits. When you use a plug-in like Adobe Reader, your browser’s built-in security doesn’t necessarily apply – you’re relying on the plug-in’s developers instead.

firefox pdf.js viewer   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe Reader

Chrome

Google Chrome also has an integrated PDF viewer, which it’s had since 2010. Unlike Firefox’s PDF viewer, Chrome’s PDF viewer is actually a plug-in bundled with Chrome. Google handles updates for the plug-in, just as it handles updates for Chrome itself and Chrome’s bundled Flash plug-in.

You can use your browser’s built-in PDF viewer to view local PDF files, too. You can even make Firefox or Chrome your default PDF viewer by right-clicking a PDF file on your computer, selecting the Open With option, and selecting Firefox or Chrome. Your browser will open and display the PDF whenever you double-click a PDF file on your computer.

google chrome pdf viewer   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe Reader

Windows 8

Windows was the last mainstream operating system to add PDF support, and Windows 8 finally comes with a PDF viewer, known as “Reader”. Unfortunately, Reader is a “Modern” app and there’s no included desktop version of Reader. You can open PDFs from the desktop and they’ll open in the full-screen Reader app by default, but if you want a desktop application so you can view PDFs while you do other things on your computer, Reader just doesn’t cut it.

If you want to read PDFs on the desktop, you can use the PDF support built into Firefox or Chrome. You can also use a third-party PDF reader.

windows 8 integrated pdf reader   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe Reader

Mac, Linux, iOS, & Android

On other operating systems, we’ve taken for granted that Adobe Reader isn’t required. Macs come with Preview, Linux distributions come with Evince or another PDF reader, Android has a built-in PDF viewer, and iPhones and iPads also have built-in PDF support.

Adobe Reader is actually available for all of these operating systems, although the version of Adobe Reader available for Linux is outdated. You’ll find Adobe Reader on Apple’s app store and Android’s Google Play, but the included apps should work fine for you.

linux pdf evince   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe Reader

Alternative PDF Readers For Windows

We’ve covered a variety of great alternative PDF readers in the past, including the well-known Foxit Reader, super-lightweight Sumatra PDF, and more. If you want to install a third-party PDF reading app on your PC, check out our list of the best PDF readers for Windows.

These PDF readers are often faster than Adobe Reader because they don’t pack in as many features. They may not work properly if you need support for digital signatures, filling and validating built-in forms, and other features. In these cases, you may need to use Adobe Reader. However, most PDFs are just documents you view – that was the original point of a PDF, after all. For the majority of people, the above solutions will offer a better experience.

Alternative PDF readers are also often more secure, as security vulnerabilities found in Adobe Reader generally don’t affect these other PDF readers. Adobe Reader’s additional features add up to a bigger target for attackers to exploit.

sumatra pdf   This Is Why You Dont Need Adobe Reader

What do you use to view PDFs? Do you stick with your platform’s built-in PDF reader or do you use an alternative PDF reader? Leave a comment and tell us what you make use of!

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82 Comments -

Nick Bruce

I never did like Adobe Reader. When Chrome added a PDF reader (with a reasonable interface) I was elated. Same with Firefox. Adobe Reader just isn’t a good piece of software, yet their other products are so good.

Chris Marcoe

So, we can jsut pull Adobe Reader off our comp if we use Firefox exclusively? sounds good to me!

Jake T

I fully just did this after making Google Chrome my default PDF handler. :)

kadek surya pranata

agree, adobe reader is just too much in using the ram… i prefer foxit reader, really fast and ram friendly…

Jeremy Garnett

I quite agree. I use Adobe at work only because it is there, but personally have used Foxit for years.

Kirby

I’m using Adobe Reader because we’re required by the company to install it on every workstation.

Are there any security flaws for the other PDF readers? Or they’re just as vulnerable?

Oron Joffe

There are security vulnerabilities in pretty much *any* software. I use Foxit Reader and there have seen a number of security patches over the years. However, the number and seriousness of those is far less than in Adobe Reader.

Kirby

I see. Thanks for the info.

Edward Goldblatt

What the heck is the reason for that requirement? Can’t the company do a bulk-license on Pro? That’s what they did at my office; got like 50 licenses cheaper than 1 personal.

Kirby

When I installed the adobe reader app, it didn’t require any licensing info so I think this app is free.

Hugo

Foxit reader, hands down, the fastest and the safest pdf reader.

IsharJay

What about “Nitro Reader”? That’s a great one too!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Yes. I have that as my secondary PDF reader, although if you just want to read the PDF (no annotations, no this-or-that) SumatraPDF does the job.

bpcan

I have tried to use alternative PDF readers and in most cases I have done this successfully, but occasionally I will meet a web site that will insist that Adobe Reader be used to open the PDF file. Personally, I can usually work around that requirement, but I have users that would be quite frustrated if they had another reader installed. So I still put it on user machines, even though I really prefer PDF XChange reader. I also like Sumatra reader, but it tends to be light on features.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Quite the contrary, as I picked Sumatra as my primary reader because it doesn’t have bell-and-whistles. Tried PDF X-Change before, but there are so many features and I don’t like the busy toolbars.

Todd Troutt

Love the new built-in reader in Firefox 19.

Junil Maharjan

This is true, adobe reader hugs too much space on computers. there are light weight alternatives and the above options are great.

Nevzat A

Just don’t forget that Adobe Reader has lot more to offer than other PDF readers. Adobe’s software is not just a dumb reader. It can even fill questionnaires in PDF’s. It allows interactive content on PDF’s. I’ve seen a demo of it some time ago by an Adobe specialist and I’ve even no idea it could do such things.

Guy McDowell

You make a good argument. Most people never make use of those options though, which is unfortunate as they would help alleviate a lot of business problems inexpensively.

All in all, I think most people are just fine with the recommendations Chris is making though.

Nevzat A

I think some companies and enterprises use such technologies. Therefore we don’t see them much around.

dragonmouth

“Just don’t forget that Adobe Reader has lot more to offer than other PDF readers. ”

I agree. It does offer lot more security holes than other PDF readers. That alone makes it unfit for use, no matter what other features it might offer.

Nevzat A

more features lead to more bloat and security holes :)

Oron Joffe

True, but Foxit Reader can be used to fill out forms and even to type over existing PDFs (great for those forms that were not designed to be interactive, i.e. you’re supposed to print them out and fill them in by hand!).

Arron Walker

Foxit, all the way

Scott M

I’ve used foxit reader for a few months now and find it works great.Not a problem.

Hawk

Foxit reader

Muz RC

adobe reader? kidding me last i used it at 2010, and after that i prefer use foxit reader because its light and fast, adobe reader for me is some kind of joke software with lot security issue and using so much memory and ram… XD

null

I hate Adobe reader beacuse they freeze whenever i open any pdf

Dave

get a decent pc then….Adobe has never ever caused me any issues security or speed. This sounds like yet another attempt to have a go at something perfectly harmless tat’s been around for years and it’s free!!!!!!!! Has there been any testing on the integrated so called pdf readers???? I doubt it, and they’re probably more likely to cause a problem than Adobe!!!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

No. Any alternative PDF readers I’ve used over the years caused exactly no problem at all, while Reader constantly froze when opening anything over a hundred pages.
It’s free, but it’s definitely not harmless. Security holes are found every so often, and it eats more resource than a reader should.
I completely disagree when you tell someone to upgrade their PC just to run a reader software. It’s hardly necessary.

Dave

Firstly I didn’t suggest getting a decent pc to just read Adobe pdfs. What I really meant was that if your pc is struggling with something like Adobe reader, then you really could do with either someone checking your pc and or upgrading as all my pcs I have ever had (and I’ve built many) have never ever had trouble with Adobe reader. I just checked how many pages my current pc will load and how long, it was a car manual with 375 pages and loaded completely within less than 2 seconds. Now that’s my experience with Adobe and I just did a search on the net to see if there are any posts like this, guess what not a single one. Please will sites like this stop rubishing perfectly good software!!!!!!!!!!

Mart Kung

As linux user Evince and firefox built-in reader.

Schvenn Meister

Steve Costello

I have been using Foxit Reader for years. Also Bullzip for my PDF printer app.
Both are much faster and more secure.

abilitymatrix

As much as I dislike Adobe Reader you have to admit that it is the only reliable reader. I try not to use it but some docs simply do not show up correct in other readers (I have tried approximately 10-15 throughout the years). Accented characters, special fonts, presentations turned to pdf, mathematical expressions. That is sad as it really is a nasty beast when it comes to resources.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Funny. My Physics and Math textbooks shows up okay in Sumatra. I think that problem can be traced to how that PDF was made.

Oron Joffe

Never had a problem with Foxit Reader. In fact, other than support for plug-ins (mostly for DRM’ed documents) I can’t think of anything Foxit does less well than the Adobe product, and it is much smaller and faster!

Bruce W. Fowler

Actually, we do need Adobe reader, and in Linux. The reason: none of the available pdf readers do a good enough job of printing.

Alex Downs

“Why You Don’t Need Adobe Reader”? More like, why I never used Adobe Reader.

Bal Mukund Agrawal

A very useful article…

Dilip Roy

It is needed when you read a document in computer other than browser.

Choon Khai

I used some other brand’s PDF browser, it’s definitely better and makes my PC run less application like background processes

mordalo

Used to be, you could download a zipped version of Foxit, but they changed it, added crap I didn’t need, and made it .exe only. After that, I switched to Sumatra.

John Wallach

Thanks for the heads up. Just removed Adobe Reader from my computer.

macwitty

Foxit Reader on an old Windows computer. On Mac, Preview is not bad but not very good either. For a light weighted reader on Mac I prefer Skim, http://skim-app.sourceforge.net/

Craig

If you want to utilize USPS ‘Click-N-Ship’ label printing, you must have Adobe Reader installed. However, USPS has recently added the ability to download your label in PDF format instead of printing directly from the website, which would negate the need for the Adobe Reader requirement. However, I have found that when printing a PDF with many of these “third-party” PDF viewers, the rendering of the printed output is not nearly the quality that I get from Adobe Reader.

I do use PDF-XChange Viewer Professional as my default viewer (as well as to create, edit, and manipulate PDF files) but must always revert to Adobe Reader when I require a high-quality printed output. I have found this issue to be the case when printing a PDF from the built-in viewers of Firefox and Google Chrome. NitroPDF and Foxit Reader also do not match Adobe Reader’s font rendering, image color and quality output.

As long as high quality printed PDF output is not required, your assertion that Adobe Reader is not required is correct. However, at least in a business situation, I would always have it installed if for no other reason than for the occasion of printing a label from any of the major shipping services, Avery Design-N-Print Online, or the admittedly rare need to print a hard copy of a PDF for legal or tax reasons. If you disable the unnecessary Adobe start-up services, Adobe Reader will consume no system resources until you actually need to use it.

Brian Smith1

I have used pdf Xchange viewer for some time. I find that it is much better and faster than Adobe

Zenphic

PDF-XChange Viewer is my favourite PDF reader. It comes with a load of features for free, including highlighting and OCR. It also has a portable version and it works very well if you have a lot of RAM (it caches the PDF pages into the RAM for faster viewing).

Kippereast

I use Adobe, as it is the only program with all the abilities I need in my business. I have experimented with other programs, as always end up back with Adobe. I send out a lot of PDF’s for review and signature, and it is the easist to use for my clients. So I will continue to use it, while I do agree there are a lot of good options out there, just not for my business.
It is like the “Zip” compression software, always used WinZip, until Windows integrated it in to Windows Explorer. Tried the Windows option, great for everyday use, but too many options I need are missing. So back to WinZip, as it is the familar Program and contains all I need.
Excellent commentary.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I think that’s it. It’s needed only in business environment. For everyday PDF and ebook viewing, you don’t need any of those features at all, thus negating the need of Adobe Reader.

Sam

Thank You I just uninstall Adobe Reader after reading this it came on my new pc after all the good reviews from Foxit Reader I am installing the Foxit Reader

dragonmouth

I don’t know whether to cry or celebrate. Adobe does not offer a Linux version of the Reader. I know, I will celebrate.

Being a Linux user, I use Okular which is sufficient for my use.

Josue Aguilar

I use Foxit Reader. I works very good for me.

Carolyn

The Firefox reader is actually more problematic for me — it often fails to properly show PDFs (it lets me know though — then I have to open it in Adobe Acrobat.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Have you tried Sumatra? It’s lighter, though it doesn’t have any feature other than letting you read PDF/EPUB/etc

Sandra S

I use Nitro (the freeware version) It supports digital signatures and more. I do keep the Adobe Reader installed and updated just in case I try to open something that Nitro can’t handle, but that has been once, I think in several years.

Framton Goodman

After reading this, I’ll use Google Chrome!

fatihamzah

i think Its according your needs. If you just reading and use the basic tools for PDF, its okay. but there are many tools that just Adobe Reader have.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Yeah. For home users, there will be no need of Reader.

geekonweb

I uninstalled Adobe pdf reader 5 years ago and switched to Foxit reader. Now it is the time to remove that too. Google chrome is good enough to handle pdf related needs.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Reader is slow and bloated and a space-waster. Settled with SumatraPDF which gets the work done without bell and whistles. I never like PDF reader with too many toolbars. It detracts me from actually reading.

Abhijith R

Adobe Reader has only given me burdens. After my first use it sent my PC to BOD. And also its slow at startup.

RĂ©y AĂ©tar

adobe reader works fine for me its the best and didnot face any problems with it

Manish Parmar

well, i use foxit reader,its fast n uses less ram.
even chrome n firfox can be used as a pdf reader n we dnt nid to install a third party pdf reader.dat sounds great !!! well many of us dint know that…thanx a ton

Jignesh Solanki

I am convinced but adobe is my first choice. if not available definitely go for others. The most websites requires adobe reader only so first choose always adobe reader.

Jignesh Solanki

I am convinced but adobe is my first choice because it offers more then any other readers. if not available definitely go for others. The most websites requires adobe reader only so first choose always adobe reader.

nuncauno

FoxIt reader does everything I need.

Michael Heffner

Adobe updater is satan’s gaming software….

Edward Goldblatt

I use Adobe Acrobat Pro, both at work and at home, and frankly, as much as it pains me, the tool that was built to do the job does it. Adobe Reader always struck me as a “demo” version of Pro – intentionally slower, incapable of doing a million little things (but leaving the options in the menus!), and a few other issues. Sumatra is quick for just reading, as are a few of the other resource-light readers. But frankly, for what I need to do with PDFs (edit on the fly, occasionally create OCR-based text), I need the better tool.

najeeb

It is good to open PDF file direct on the screen.

ashutosh raj

i have experimented with many pdf readers like nitro , sumatra and many more after uninstalling adobe reader . but i love foxit for its speed and features :) .

Keith Swartz

I use PDF-XChange. Does the job MUCH BETTER than Adobe! Like the alternatives presented here. Good work Chris!

Ahsan Javed

So Technically U r Saying I was being Trolled By Adobe from 4 years

Bala Murugan.R vicky

What do you guys think about Foxit Reader!!!
i think it is AWESOME, in a usable way it has more support in changing and editing operations. Moreover its new tab feature gives good feel and larger icons helps in good usage of the reader, it is light, multi-tabs,secure and free. it is becoming popular among pdf readers. Especially better than adobe and its non-stop updates.
What say…!!!!

Patsy Ashley

Thank you for this piece of information. I had no idea that this was the reason I have learned to dislike reader. This has been very informative.

Matt Mar

Foxit.. Easy to use and beside that most of nowdays browsers have built-in pdf reader… :) So i dont even see reason to keep adobe reader on pc..

Frank Woodman

I agree 100% Adobe reader has grown too big and too unsafe to use. I use Foxxit reader and love it. And now I don’t have all the issues with slow running and bloat that Adobe seems not to be able to fix. Remember you can try any third party free reader and see if you like it before you remove Adobe reader. But if you try and like a third party reader DO REMOVE adobe reader as it’s a real resource hog your system will love you for dropping it.

null

Adobe reader has gotten really bloated.

Santosh

On Windows, Foxit Reader is also a good alternative. It is light and having good number of features.

yudics

Not agree, i like adobe reader, its free, and easy to use

Tom Steenhuysen

ok. This is getting ridiculous Adobe … The automatic installation to upgrade Acrobat Reader XI is almost HALF A GIG!

I had to take a screenshot … https://www.dropbox.com/s/yl8bketgyo8t4ah/Adobe%20Reader%20Upgrade%20is%20almost%20half%20a%20GIG.png

Adobe, what in heaven’s name are you putting into this?

Vasilis

I use Foxit Reader as my primary PDF viewer (on both of my PC -which is super fast- and my old laptop). I like the toolbar on the bottom that appears when you pass the cursor over, and the quality is pretty decent while reading a document. I also use Chrome for online PDFs, and the default Adobe Reader app on my android smartphone.